1855 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Anna Seward

Sarah Josepha Hale, Woman's Record; or, Sketches of all Distinguished Women (1852; 1855) 503.



ANNA SEWARD, daughter of the Rev. Thomas Seward, was born, in 1747, at Eyam, in Derbyshire. Very early in life she manifested a talent for poetry, which her father in vain tried to discourage. She acquired considerable reputation as a poet; and also wrote "A Life of Dr. Darwin," in which she claims the first fifty lines of his "Botanic Garden" as her own.

In 1754 Mr. Seward removed with his family to Lichfield, the birth-place of Johnson and Garrick, and the residence of Dr. Darwin; and Miss Seward continued to live there until her death in 1809. Her only sister dying in 1764, just as she was on the eve of marrying Dr. Porter, step-son to Dr. Johnson, Anna found her society so indispensable to her parents, that she rejected all offers of matrimony on their account; although, being young, beautiful, and an heiress, she was of course much sought. She was remarkable for the ardour and constancy of her friendships, as well as for her filial devotion.

Her sonnets have procured her the greater part of her celebrity as a poetess; though her poetical novel, entitled "Louisa," was very favourably received at the time of its publication. Miss Seward died in 1809, aged sixty-two years. Among her publications were six volumes of "Letters." The "Description of the Life of an English Clergyman some eighty or or ninety years ago," is a fair specimen of her prose, which we think is superior to her poetry.